It would not be trading period without the annual mix of ruck stocks around the competition. Like goalkeepers and wicketkeepers, ruck is a specialized position, meaning clubs must have a pair in reserve at all times, but will not put more than one or two in the same 22. It provides a very fluid marketplace, and this year is no exception.
Callum Coleman-Jones has already moved to North Melbourne and bumps into Tristan Xerri in the pick order at Arden Street. Xerri is likely to join St Kilda. Jonathon Ceglar is in no-man’s land at Hawthorn and is in the sights of Geelong, which will only let Darcy Fort move to the Brisbane Lions if they can land a replacement like Ceglar.
Peter Ladhams is without a doubt the most promising of the flock, and since he was unable to make No. 1 spot his own in Port Adelaide, he is in Sydney. Hawthorn is interested in Max Lynch, who can save Mason Cox at Collingwood. Levi Casboult is more of a forward / ruck, but is shaping up as an opportunity for the Gold Coast. The West Coast is also looking to miss out on Jordon Sweet. Then there is Lobb. The result is: except lots of ruckmen to move between now and Wednesday night.
After already losing Tim O’Brien as a free agent for the Western Bulldogs, and with Ceglar possibly on his way to Geelong, Hawthorn is open to off-loading stars Jaeger O’Meara, Tom Mitchell, Chad Wingard or Jack Gunston at the right price if it helps significantly strengthen their pulling hand, with the Hawks eager to speed up their rebuilding under new coach Sam Mitchell.
But with capsule space close to most of the league, there are few clear suitors for any of the quartet. Helping Hawthorn’s case is that they have plenty of room in their own cap and could potentially contribute to these players’ salaries if they were to move to a new club. But the most important thing for the Hawks will be to get early elections. All four have contracts, so the status quo is that they will be at Waverley Park next season. But it is clearly a case of seeing this space.
With no cap space or draft capital to land a big fish, Collingwood has picked up a few fringe players from premier candidates to bolster their rebuilding list. The Magpies were active early in the trading period and bought Nathan Kreuger cheaply from Geelong. Conversations about their second target – Patrick Lipinski from the dogs – have been a bit slower. The pies have the upper hand here as they have selected No. 2 in the pre-season draft and the midfielder is out of contract. But despite some devotion from the Adam Treloar saga, there is an expectation that an agreement will be made in good faith on a third or fourth round election, perhaps with some peripheral prey and slips.
Geelong still has a whip in hand with Fremantle over a potential deal for Cats speedster Jordan Clark, who wants to return to Western Australia and become a Docker. Clark gets a contract for another year, so the standard is that he stays. Dockers rejected a No. 8 election request for Clark, while Cats asked for more than pick 27. Fremantle prefers to keep their first three picks, but after trading multiple picks in bids last week, Dockers is ready to relieve select 22 as part of an agreement with Clark that appears to be realized before the deadline.
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